romneyhuckabee.jpgEvangelicals were famously divided ruing this year’s Republican primaries–the New York Times dubbed it an “evangelical crackup–but the most viscous divisions were between those supporting Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney. Huck’s evangelical forces saw Romney as the ultimately opportunist, converting to the social conservative cause only when he perceived that doing so would help cut a path to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Romney’s evangelical backers–there were a good number of them, particularly in elite circles–thought Huckabee was playing to the basest tendencies of the evangelical movement, campaigning to be a “pastor-in-chief” and cynically playing the Mormon card. (Remember Huck’s devil remark?)
With both men reportedly in the running to be John McCain’s vice presidential pick, the divisions between evangelicals for Huck and evangelicals for Mitt have resurfaced. A prominent evangelical Huckabee emailed GOM today with this Townhall post about persistent evangelical suspicions of Romney, with the title line “Huck Forces still attacking Mitt.”
Romney’s defenders–who, again, tend to the populate the elite conservative ranks–dismiss reports of evangelical antipathy toward Romney as the dirty work of Huck’s henchmen. Townhall is a good example. AllahPundit, meanwhile, takes the evangelical opposition to Romney to be more genuine.
Such sentiment makes the ecumenical God-o-Meter wince, but it nonetheless appears to be real. A Pew poll released last December reported as much:

Furthermore, the group of Americans most likely to say they value religiosity in a president – white evangelical Protestants – is also the group most apt to be bothered by [Romney’s] religion. More than one-in-three evangelical Republicans (36%) expressed reservations about voting for a Mormon, a level of opposition much higher than that seen among the electorate overall.

McCain’s advisors have to be taking this into consideration. But if they’re counting more on independents than evangelicals anyway, Romney–the old, socially liberal Romney–doesn’t look like such a liability.


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